It will be very likely that you are flooded with numerous wedding invitations at this time of the year. Since the long-awaited legalization of same-sex marriage in the US, your gay friends finally got the opportunity to marry their soulmates. To commemorate their new milestone, you are invited to their wedding.
While all weddings celebrate the same joy of venturing into a new life, same-sex marriages can be slightly different as most of them will not follow traditional customs. You are already accustomed to the general hetero weddings, but you are not yet well-acquainted with gay weddings. Hence, it is wise to keep account of a few things before attending a same-sex wedding.
Getting the Perfect Wedding Gift
As a good guest, you need to bring a wedding gift as a token of appreciation and support opt-out of the union. Regardless of sexual orientation, picking the perfect wedding present can feel quite daunting. When it comes to same-sex couples, you need to be wary of the stereotypical gender roles.
Do not give any cards with the regular bride and groom denotations. Instead, you can make personalized cards that celebrate the pride of being LGBTQ+. Personalized gifts are always unique and have a special touch. Everyone appreciates and values customized efforts.
Alternatively, you can opt for envelopes with beautiful calligraphy of their names and phrases like “Best Wishes.” It can also have illustrations of wedding bells and doves to match with the special occasion.
Gay wedding gifts can be a cakewalk when the couple has already registered at their favorite stores, making their preferences known. Whatever item you choose to give, make sure that it is something they want or will surely like.
For instance, if the couple has a passion for cooking, you can give them a charcuterie board or a cutting board with their initials engraved. Avoid giving household items to already established couples. Simply be mindful of their dislikes and preferences.
Use the Couple’s Preferred Pronouns and Terminology
Gender is a social construct, and fortunately, individuals are finally being aware of how gender roles can be complicated. You need to understand and keep in mind that same-sex marriages do not necessarily have two grooms or two brides. Some lesbian and gay couples find the terms “bride” and “groom” offensive.
It is not just the LGBTQ+ individuals; even some hetero couples also prefer not embracing those stereotypical roles. To overcome this hurdle, simply pay attention to the terms the couple use and follow their lead. You can also directly ask them what pronouns they prefer. The couple will surely appreciate your efforts of trying to be thoughtful and respectful.
However, at all costs, do not ask, “Who is the groom, and who is the bride?” Such a question is quite offensive and needless. It will surely be a damper on the newlyweds’ mood. Some of the soon-to-be-married duos also state their preferred terms and pronouns in their wedding invitations. Read the pronouns they use carefully; that will be your go-to term to refer to them.
There might be a situation where you blank out a crucial moment and can not remember their preferred pronouns and terms. In such scenarios, just use the couple’s names. You are not bound to label them in any particular way. The best aspect of such free-spirited marriages is that no one has to conform to a specific gender norm.
Expect Different Customs and Traditions
The majority of the traditional customs and protocols are based on heteronormative gender roles. Such old traditions do not apply to same-sex weddings in most cases. When it comes to wedding ceremonies, the choices and possibilities are endless for contemporary couples.
Anticipate some changes to the standard wedding protocols and routines. For example, some straight and gay couples opt-out of being “given away” as they reject the idea of someone being treated like property. The couple might choose to walk with both the parents on their side or with each other down the aisle.
Most ceremonies have also excluded the garter removal and bouquet toss practice as they are quite sexist and outdated. The vows can also be different from the same old “ I, _____, take thee, _____, to be my wedded wife/husband…”
Nowadays, couples try to do something different when they are about to say “I do”. People have their personalized vows to express their heartfelt emotions and pure joy, making the entire ceremony special and memorable. Be prepared with the tissues; tears of joy will spring out as your heart will surely be touched with such heart-touching moments.
If you feel like something has been missing or skipped in the entire event, assume that it has been deliberately exempted. Embrace the uniqueness and change of pace of such beautiful events.
Avoid Being Nosy
Avoid being noisy and do not ask any personal questions. This applies to both hetero and same-sex weddings. It is simply rude and obnoxious. Some people also ask quite offensive and personal questions, starting with “I don’t mean to pry but how…”. The question is too invasive and impolite.
You do need to know who paid for the wedding or how the relationship with their in-laws is. Certainly, avoid asking about whether they are planning to have a baby. Such questions are very invasive and can sour the whole event. It is simply not your business, and it hurts the sentiments of the people who invited you.
You should not attend the wedding just to find out “how these things work”. You should go there simply to support your friend or relative. They invited you to join the happy union and expect you to be there for them and nothing else.
Moreover, steer clear of participating in any gossip. Avoid any nosy people who want to gossip about the couple and make assumptions. If you find yourself in such a situation where everyone around you starts to gossip, simply make an excuse to go to the washroom and get yourself out of that toxic conversation.
You are not entitled to know about their private matters and plans. If they are planning to do something huge and want you to be a part of it, they will let you know. Just do not go out of your way to get some scoop of their personal lives. It is presumptuous and ruins the positive energy of a wedding.
Stay Home if It’s Not Your Cup of Tea
Despite the legalization of gay marriages and wider acceptance, homophobia persists all over the world. If you do not like the idea of two people falling in love and marrying each other regardless of their sex, stay home. Avoid attending the wedding if you are still uncomfortable with same-sex marriages or can not disguise your disapproval.
Do not even consider arriving at the wedding venue when you show your disapproval openly. It will only cast a horrendous cloud over a beautiful ceremony. When you RSVP, simply mark “regrets” and leave it at that. There is no need to explain your reason for attending.
For some reason, you decide to show up, despite being openly against gay marriages, be respectful and avoid voicing your opinions. Simply attend to support your friends regardless of the lifestyle they lead. Certainly do not try to stop the wedding – you will be only creating more problems and digging yourself into a deeper hole.
Just bear in mind, for the best interests of everyone, including yourself, keep your views and opinions to yourself. You will only cause more harm than good and ruin everyone’s mood and the wholesome aura of the wedding.
Remember to Congratulate and Show Support
It is not easy being different. From coming out of the closet to dealing with hate and discrimination to fighting for their rights, queer individuals have gone through a lot and overcame a lot of hurdles. They are still having to deal with innumerable obstacles that heteronormative people do not have to deal with normally.
Let them know that you support them and are amazed by their strength. Congratulate them to your heart’s content about their beautiful union and ceremony. Praise all of the arrangements; they worked hard on making their wedding day fun for the guests and probably spent a fortune.
The most precious gift you can give is your support and love for the newlywed couple. They will surely cherish it. Knowing that you have their back will give them comfort, and it is a great validation.
The Bottom Line
The proper etiquette for gay weddings also applies to any other wedding. Let the couple establish the tones and their preferred terms – just follow their cues. Enjoy the ceremony without reservations, judgments, or expectations, and avoid scrutinizing all the aspects of the ceremony.
Remember that no one likes getting grilled about private matters, especially on such a big day. Keep your personal questions, controversial views, and opinions to yourself. Stay home if you can not accept the union wholeheartedly.
Focus on having fun and making merry at the event. Overlook the differences and celebrate the triumph of a pair of soulmates in love, stepping into a new adventure.